Prior to the birth of a new baby, many parents warmly envision the close bond their children will have with each other. While many siblings develop loving relationships (this does not mean conflict-free!), others have more difficulty enjoying their new brothers and sisters, which often stems from early feelings of rivalry with them. During pregnancy, parents share the news of a “new baby” with their child. They tell him how exciting it’s going to be to have a new brother or sister.
While some children genuinely thrill at the thought of a new sibling, others respond with disappointment, anger, or a variety of other – perfectly understandable – feelings. Imagine for a minute that your husband (or wife) comes home and excitedly reports to you, “Guess what? I have a new wife (or husband) and I’m bringing her home soon. She is going to share your stuff and take up a bunch of my time! Isn’t that great?” That doesn’t really sound so great, does it? So it’s easy to understand why a 3 year old might not love the idea of a new baby, or even if he loves the idea, the reality might make him reconsider.
With the birth of a sibling, older children may regress, or go backwards developmentally; newly potty-trained children may become un-potty-trained, children who once ate independently may now demand to be fed, uninterrupted nights may become disrupted by the sounds of a newborn crying AND the footsteps of a toddler. While exhausting and frustrating (especially while trying to care for an infant), all of these behaviors are perfectly understandable and normal. So, in the interest of fostering that heart-warming sibling relationship, take a deep breath, be patient with your child, make sure he is getting plenty of special attention, and know that he’ll adjust (he just needs time).